INDIANAPOLIS — State health officials continued to urge Hoosiers to get vaccinated against COVID-19 on Friday as the delta variant fuels concerns of outbreaks among people who have not yet received the shot.
Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Lindsay Weaver said the majority of current cases in Indiana are among people who are unvaccinated.
Only about 2,700 breakthrough cases have been reported among the nearly 2.9 million fully vaccinated Hoosiers with 132 people requiring hospitalization and 46 deaths. The median age of deaths resulting from breakthrough cases in Indiana is 81 years old with 91% occurring in people over the age of 65, Box said.
"Because of the increase in variants that Dr. Box mentioned, these variants have been shown to be more infectious and may cause more severe illness, and the vaccine is still the most effective tool that we have to protect the people we love," Weaver said.
Weaver also attempted ease concerns people have about having their children get vaccinated due to reports of possible side effects to the vaccine, such as myocarditis and pericarditis.
"What I want to emphasize is this," Weaver said. "These conditions are easily treatable and most patients fare very well. The risks associated with getting COVID-19 are higher than the risks of myocarditis or pericardits. Based on hospitalization data collected over four months, we can predict that thousands of cases of COVID-19 have been prevented, while the number of cases of myocarditis remains low."
On Friday morning, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that vaccinated teachers and students will not need to wear masks inside school buildings this year. Box said masks are still recommended for people who are not vaccinated, and decisions on mask requirements will be made by local school boards.
“We very much follow CDC guidance for our recommendations and we say that if individuals are unvaccinated, they should in indoor settings, wear a mask. But as far as mandating that, with the difference in variability with the amount of disease that present in each individual county, we're really wanting schools to be able to make those decisions," Dr. Box said. She continued, "I hope they make those decisions, the superintendents and the school boards with the consultation of the local public health and elected officials.”
There have been 757,062 positive cases and 13,487 confirmed deaths in Indiana since the pandemic began. An additional 427 probable COVID-19 deaths have also been reported.
More than 5,200 variant cases have been identified in Indiana, including 233 cases of the delta variant.
"If we start to see significant increases in cases — and we will see a surge of the delta variant, we will be like other countries and other states that have seen this — people will need to be very careful if they're unvaccinated and continue to wear their masks on a regular basis to protect themselves and their family," Box said.
Box added that people who are fully vaccinated should be protected against the delta variant, but those who are immunocompromised should consider wearing a mask in indoor spaces.
Watch the news conference in the player below: